Bad news indeed (set irony=on)

From Wired comes this ironic little story (hat tip Insty)
Bad News: Scientists Make Cheap Gas From Coal
Electric cars have been getting a lot of buzz lately, but a more immediately viable transportation fuel of the future could be liquid derived from coal. Scientists have devised a new way to transform coal into gas for your car using far less energy than the current process. The advance makes scaling up the environmentally unfriendly fuel more economical than greener alternatives.

If oil prices rise again, adoption of the new coal-to-liquid technology, reported this week in Science, could undercut adoption of electric vehicles or next-generation biofuels. And that's bad news for the fight against climate change.

The new process could cut the energy cost of producing the fuel by 20 percent just by rejiggering the intermediate chemical steps, said co-author Ben Glasser of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. But coal-derived fuel could produce as much as twice as much CO2 as traditional petroleum fuels and at best will emit at least as much of the greenhouse gas.

"The bottom line is that there's one fatal flaw in their proposed process from a climate protection standpoint," Pushker Karecha of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies wrote in an e-mail to Wired.com. "It would allow liquid fuel CO2 emissions to continue increasing indefinitely."

The race for alternative fuels kicked into high gear last year, with the price of oil reaching $150 a barrel before plummeting down below $40 this year. Still, though experts disagree on the specifics of timing, it's clear that conventional oil sources will eventually run out. The list of contenders to replace oil is long and diverse. Alternative fuels could include next-gen ethanol, algal biofuel, hydrogen and natural gas, or cars could go largely electric.

But the problem with all the new fuels is that they have to scale up � and that's harder than it sounds. Plus, many fear that biofuels could cause massive, negative land-use changes.

The process of cooking coal into liquid fuel, on the other hand, has already proven itself on a massive scale. Take coal, add some water, cook it, and you've got a liquid fuel for your car. The hydrogen in the water bonds to the carbon and voila: hydrocarbons, such as octane. It's the very fact that coal-to-liquids could work that make them such a scary idea for people devoted to fighting climate change.
If I were King: #1) - massive rollout of Nuclear Power #2) - dump a couple hundred million on these people: EMC2 #3) - massive coal to fuel conversion This would eliminate our dependence of foreign oil, provide our electrical needs for well over 500 years, provide industrial feedstocks for plastics and other manufacturing (waste from the coal conversion) and if #2) pans out, we can roll-back #1) The environmentalists are not about being green, they are about control. Here they are staring at the best possible solutions for our world's problems and they are shooting them down because of Carbon Dioxide when the majority of the CO2 will be produced at the plant and can be remediated. Instead, we go on burning Coal and pissing and moaning about it...

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on March 27, 2009 2:12 PM.

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